Counter terrorism police have declared the deadly stabbing incident in Reading last night a “terrorist incident” after they arrested a Libyan man.
The 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder last night and remains in police custody.
Police said that at 6.56pm they received a report that a number of people had been stabbed in Forbury Gardens in Reading. Three people died and three others were injured in the attack.
One victim has been named as teacher James Furlong – described by his school as “talented and inspirational.”
Paying tribute to Mr Furlong, head of history, government and politics at the Holt School in Wokingham, the school’s co-heads said he was a “kind and gentle man” with a “real sense of duty.”
The authorities said they were not in a position to talk about the man who has been arrested or give any further details about the case as this is a live Counter Terrorism investigation.
But they said they do not believe that there is a wider risk to the public and there is nothing to suggest that anyone else was involved in this incident.
Media reports, however, suggested that the suspected attacker is Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan asylum seeker who was living in a flat in Reading. He is thought to have been known to the security services.
Head of UK counter terror police Neil Basu said a suspect “ran into Forbury Gardens and attacked members of the public with a knife” yesterday evening.
He described the scene as “very distressing” and “pretty horrific” for officers and members of the public who saw what happened.
The motivation for the “horrific act” is not yet clear, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Basu said, but “there is nothing to suggest that there was anyone else involved in this attack.”
Police stressed the stabbings “were not associated in any way” with the Black Lives Matter protests that took place “peacefully” in the park earlier in the day.
Assistant Commissioner Basu also urged people not to share graphic video of the aftermath of the attack, which was posted on social media last night showing at least two bloodied people being given CPR.
Chief Constable John Campbell of Thames Valley Police added: “I am deeply saddened by the events of last night. This was a truly tragic incident and the thoughts of Thames Valley Police are with all those who have been affected.
“Incidents of this nature are very rare, though I know that will be of little comfort to those involved and understand the concern that this incident will have caused amongst our local community.
“We will be working closely with our partners over the coming days and weeks to support the Reading community during this time, as well as with CTPSE as they progress their investigation.
“Police cordons continue to be in place and are likely to be for some time as CTPSE work further to investigate this incident and establish exactly what happened.
“I would urge the public to avoid the area at this time and thank the community for their patience. We will let you know as soon as the area is back open. I would also ask that the public avoid speculation.
“We would like to hear from anyone who has video footage. Out of respect for those deceased and injured, along with their loved ones, please do not circulate this footage on social media – this will be incredibly distressing.
“If you have any information about this incident, please contact us on 101 quoting reference 1159 20/6.”